The rain dripped from the brim of his well-worn hat. The pockets of his long tattered coat bulged with his rations for that day. He shuffled from foot to foot in a futile effort to keep the cold at bay. His grubby fingers crushed a Woodbine cigarette as they moved effortlessly over the notes of his battered tin whistle. His well-worn features and the stubble on his face bore witness to a man who had endured hardship and pain along life’s path. His intense stare penetrated the gaze of all who made eye contact with him: a silent plea for small change that would see him through another day.
He called himself a traveling musician. Nobody knew his name or hometown. He was uncomfortable with small talk and unwilling to engage in conversation. His reluctant audience wished his vow of silence extended to his tin whistle! The noise that masqueraded as music penetrated the ear drums of those nearest to him. Their squirming features clearly showed a lack of appreciation for the musical talent of this tall stranger. The few coins in his shoebox were the measure of his competence!
A short time later peace was restored. With a toothless grin he thanked those who were nearest to him. He gathered his meagre belongings in silence and slowly made his way through the arched gates. As he departed a nearby merchant handed him a bag of fresh fruit and bid him season’s greetings. Somewhat embarrassed, he lifted his hat in acknowledgement and melted into the crowd, happy to remain an anonymous visitor to Limerick’s Christmas market.